How to Lose Your Writing Voice and How to Get it Back

In the last four years, I have published over 850 articles, but you’ll only find about 10% of those with my name on it and maybe 1% published here or anywhere I have control. And I did mean to do that, but I didn’t mean to take it that far.

Getting Paid to Build a Writing Work Ethic

I’ve written for a long time. I started like five novels that never made it past the first chapter. I have published blog posts and guest posts. I even wrote two books that have been published. But there was never any consistency. I’ve had some streaks in the past where I published a blog article every day for a month or longer, but those streaks only lasted so long.

The truth is I got the books finished because I had a deadline breathing down my neck the whole time. I turned down the third book.

But I have always wanted to be one of those writers you read about that consistently write 1000, 2000, 3000, or even 4000 words a day. So when I needed some extra money this time, instead of finding a coding project on the side, I decided I would write.

I would make money, which at first was less than I could make writing code and it still is now a lot of the time, but there have been times I made 2-3 times what coding would pay.

I would learn to write faster and more. And I did. One month I wrote over 40,000 words that got published, while being a full-time senior software engineer, teaching my son to drive, and all the other things.

I would begin to consider writing as the work I do rather than the result of inspiration that hits me and I have to get it down. Waiting for that I think is the main cause of writer’s block. If this article consisted of the word “the” 1000 times, I wrote some words. Writer’s block demolished.

So the plan worked, in many ways. But I didn’t have a transition plan.

Forgetting the Point

I didn’t take this route to be the best content writer I could be or even the best technical writer. To tell you the truth, I really don’t enjoy this type of writing. It is questionable whether I enjoy writing at all. I constantly ask myself why I choose to do this. If I didn’t have to work, I might write an article like this one, but I’d tell all the agencies to take a hike.

The ultimate goal is to write fiction, but not the Great American Novel. The exact opposite. Popular fiction. That name has always been weird to me. It seems like setting yourself up for failure. “I want to write fiction, but only the popular kind.” So let’s call it pulp fiction.

But I have a few steps before I get there. I want to get my blog back up and running. It has been around for around 18 years now. It has been abandoned for months and years at a time.

I want to build some niche blogs to take the place of my content writing income. Some of the posts I have written for clients rank #1 in Google for many popular terms. They should. That is what I am getting paid for. And that is what I want to pay myself for, on Medium, with advertising, and with affiliate marketing.

But until recently, I would finish the writing I got paid for and would be done for the day. It’s a lot of work.

Well, yeah, but that amount of writing looked impossible until I threw myself in the deep end and it become normal. So I kicked myself in the ass, realized the deadline motivation is about the same as the inspiration motivation and started really writing for myself again, whether I had the time or not. And I did have the time.

Did Content Writing Water Down My Normal Voice?

Content writing taught me a lot. It taught me to outline and write fast. It taught me how to write better for the web.

But it also taught me how to write behind a corporate tone. Yes, some places might say use your own style, but they really don’t mean it.

I truly don’t know what my “voice” is any more. I do know that I like these posts:

So those I would still write even if I didn’t have to, though some I need to go back and edit and fix broken images. But I am not really sure how to write like whoever that person was any more. But I am going to find out.

How to Get it Back?

No, I’m asking you.

But, until I figure it out, I am going to write one post a week, of my own, just to get in the practice. And once this feels right, rather than forced, I will move up to two, and then more. All while I keep pace with my freelance writing, because I will only learn this by doing it. So today I wrote an article and next week I will write another one and we’ll see when things click.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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